Irina Doguzova

* 1967  

  • “The terrorists wanted to negotiate but there was nobody willing to talk to them. I don’t know why. I was sitting inside, saw them ready to negotiate, asking for telephones, but no negotiation took place. We hoped for our government to do something. But nothing like that happened and the longer it took, the more clear it was that it wasn’t about to end up well. The first day, I was hopeful, the second day less and the third day I realized that this was it.”

  • “I lost a son and that is such pain that no amount of years can heal it. They say that time heals but it isn’t so. For instance, last year as his peers were graduating, I really wanted to see him next to them… It is very hard… When I see his classmates I very much want him to be here with me… I wasn’t seriously injured physically, sustaining some abrasions and burns, but the pain in my soul will remain in place for the rest of my life… The terrorists are responsible for his death in the first place, but in the second place it is the government which did nothing to help us. They just wanted to destroy the terrorists at any price. Even the price of children’s lives.”

  • “On 1 September we brought the kids to school. They were standing in front of their classrooms with their teachers and I chatted with the other parents, waiting for the official commencement. Then the music started playing, balloons were flying around when suddenly we heard gunshots. I thought it was a bad joke. But they were already taking over the school. At the beginning I didn’t comprehend what was happening until someone shouted that it was a terrorist attack. I ran looking for my children. I found the younger one, Mark. By that time we were encircled and ran to the schoolyard towards the windows. The older one, Artur, found us himself. He rushed towards us, sat down and said: ‘Mum, I am very scared.’ I calmed him down. Then they forced us to crawl in through the windows. Thus, we became hostages.”

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    Beslan, 01.06.2014

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In the end, we are to blame for our own suffering

Irina Doguzova
Irina Doguzova
photo: archiv post bellum

Irina Doguzova was born in Vladikavkaz in 1967. She trained to become a seamstress. In 1994 she got married and moved to Beslan. She gave birth to five children. Her eldest son Artur died during a terrorist attack at the school all five children attended, while her sons Mark (1996), Alan (1998) and daughters Alina (1999) and Laida (2004) survived. On September 1, 2004, the first day of school, the family of 7 drove together to the local elementary. Irina’s husband stayed in the car with their two young daughter while Irina walked her eldest sons inside. Her third son, Alan, had stayed at home. There were no classes on the first day of school, and the kids were excited about the schoolyear commencing ceremony. While entering the school yard, Irina heard gunshots. A group of terrorists rushed Irina and her sons into the gym. There they had spent the following two days as hostages. On the third day, Artur convinced his mother and brother to move towards the fitness room where there appeared to be more fresh air. Irina remembers the first explosion feeling as though it came from outside. The second one set the gym on fire. Artur was fatally hit with a piece of flying debris, while Irina and Mark managed to escape. During the shootout, which began after the explosion, they hid under a table. The terrorists forced the hostages to stand in the windows as living shields against the fire coming from outside. The event caused the whole family a deep trauma. To this day, Irina doesn’t understand the reasons which led to the attack on the school. She partly blames the government for her son’s death, since it failed to handle the situation without such excessive violence.